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The Trade: Diploma for a Test Score

In August 2008, Achieve released a report on the first use of the ADP Algebra II end-of-course exam. what does this mouthful mean?

Most states have tried requiring passage of a single performance-based assessment (WASL in Washington State) to determine whether or not a student gets a high school diploma. However, because of the low performance scores (i.e. translates into low graduation rates...which translates into parental uproar...which translates into state embarassment), many states (such as WA) are jumping on the use of end-of-course exams as replacement criteria.

To capitalize on this "new market," agencies are developing and validating such exams. One such group is ADP, or American Diploma Project which is a network involving Achieve and 13 states.

The August (2008) Report proves to be interesting reading...but I will not define what interesting means in this context. Please read the report yourself to learn about such things as:

  • The Five Standards
  • The Topics Addressed (and % of emphasis)
  • Item types: multiple choice, short answer, and extended response
  • Use of technology rules
  • Performance scores for students on the first use of the exam (my advice: read this while sitting down!)
  • Next steps
My prediction: The next few years will be quite chaotic, as we see struggles between advocates of one-time assessment exams and advocates of end-of-course exams...let alone continuing attempts to define what "Algebra I" and Algebra II" are...and why they are deemed so important as a graduation hurdles!